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The 2008 global financial crisis wrecked havoc on the global economy and gave impetus to the long lingering questions on the effectiveness of capitalism. The United States and Europe were the most affected with the effects still being felt today in both places.
There is consensus however that the crisis was an indication of powerful forces beyond economics. According to Aydin, the strength of a country’s economy pretty much determines the status and position of other elements such as military power and influence1. With the crisis, many people have come to doubt the effectiveness of free market enterprise especially as it is practiced in the US and Europe.
Based on the crisis, a number of analysts have reached the conclusion that the era of the US dominance in the world is almost coming to an end. Given the fact that Asian countries which practice a more regulated form of capitalism emerged almost unaffected from the crisis, the above statement does make sense.
It is not lost to observers that Africa and the Middle East are in turmoil while the West is mired in problems that will certainly take years to solve2. Yahua says that at the moment, the US displays economic weakness while Europe faces an uncertain future. Other regions too face significant challenges3.
That leaves Asia as the only region that is experiencing sustainable economic growth and with it, growing military might and influence.
In this discussion, there will be explicit reference to China, India and Japan whose activities carry widespread repercussions in the continent.
Emergence of Asia
The West led by the US has for many decades dictated policy in virtually every part of the world. Strong economies coupled with unmatched military might, ensured western countries had their way in almost every decision made in the world4. However, the rise of Asia especially China and India has created doubts about the West’s status in the world with a change in geopolitics and global dominance now inevitable.
The decline of liberal nations mainly in the West whose power and influence have shaped world policy for centuries coupled with the emergence of China has erased any doubt that a new world order is in the making.
In 2011, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the Chinese Economy will surpass that of the US by the year 2016. Those of India, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are also growing at unprecedented rates5.
Perhaps realizing their potential and an opportunity to assert their influence on a global stage, Asian countries have embarked on strategic partnerships that experts contend will eventually be the bedrock in the new world order.
Hagerty says that while there is competition among Asian countries especially India, China and Pakistan, the countries do share political values that are overtly changing the strategic landscape of the region6.
There is deepening of ties among Asian nations especially with China and development of new strategic partnerships that emphasize Asian democracy and security. Already, leaders from India, Japan and Indonesia have openly sought to establish such partnerships modeled on the principles that establish the European Union.
Asia and a New World Order
Compelling evidence of Asia’s might is openly available. Currently, China is the second biggest economy in the world. It also has the second largest defense budget besides that of the United States. Japan is the third largest economy in the world and economists contend that India will be the fourth largest economy in less than a decade.
It is worth noting that all the above three Asian nations are nuclear capable with India and China in possession of both long and short-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear war-heads. According to Burki, the economic transformation of Asian countries is the main force behind the emerging new world order7.
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Many scholars agree that the emerging new world order thanks to Asia’s rise and successful building of strategic ties in the continent will necessarily not lead to the decline of the United States. Rather, the new Asia, through strategic partnerships will be in a position to play a crucial role in determining the position of the United States and European Union in the international system.
The US has for a long time sought to build and bolster its strategic alliances with Asian allies especially Japan and India. The alliances border on trade, nuclear development and defense. As mentioned earlier however, there is growing discontent among Asian nations that their alliance with the US may not achieve its objectives in the long-term8.
Additionally, many of these nations don’t consider antagonizing China as beneficial to their national interests. While retaining their association with the US, these nations have sought to build domestic partnerships which they reckon are more beneficial to their long-term strategic and security interests.
In so doing, these economic, political and strategic maneuvers of Asian countries has created an emerging center of wealth, economic power and influence that is difficult to ignore.
Though this discussion focuses on the effects of the partnerships of Asian powers, it is important to note that success of such arrangements to a greater extent depends on the strength of the individual nations involved. A focus on the role of and trends in individual Asian nations in a possible new world order therefore is necessary.
One of the most strategic trends from Asia in the new world order will be the continued expansion of China’s economy and military capabilities9. Certainly, with proven military superiority and unsurpassed economic growth, China will continue to derive widespread global influence equal to that of the US and EU, and probably more.
Already, China is exercising its power through financial grants to developing nations and increased military assertiveness in perceived conflicts with its Asian peers. China’s stance on North Korea and apparent subtle defiance of the US on North Korean and economic matters such as exchange rate issues is indicative of the emerging order.
Many experts contend that though Japan has the technological capabilities necessary to build a military power, there haven’t been enough efforts on that front, perhaps because of its pacifist constitution. There is a feeling therefore that the country’s capabilities have greatly been eroded by the shift of power in Asia10.
However, it is not lost to policy makers in Japan that their alliance with the US and falling economic fortunes warrants new thinking concerning its position in the region. Japan already has what it takes to sustain a new world order dominated by Asia and it is likely that in that scenario, there will be efforts to gradually normalize the country to fit that role.
India’s economy is soaring and with it, a constantly developing military. There is no doubt that by the end of the decade, India would have risen to the top-tier of world powers and an influential player in world politics. It will also have added to the already established Asian might that will easily match existing US dominance.
Komberg and Faust say that the events in the above-mentioned countries will certainly spur further growth of already established Asian regionalism as well as competition among the powers especially concerning the direction and scope of emerging institutions in the continent11.
Additionally, there is a possible spread of liberal tendencies across the region representing the epitome of strategic cooperation and representing the source of a new world order. The above strategic trends suggest a possible new world order partly shaped by Asia with multiple facets reflecting the different Asian players and multiple pathways.
One of the pathways will likely be characterized by closer cooperation of Asian powers with an elaborate regional framework that will give room to a United States leadership role in Asia, albeit in a diminished way12.
Though cooperation will be the main feature, this arrangement will also be marked by quiet competition among the powers with the aim of achieving top leadership in the Asian power hierarchy.
Additionally, there is likely to be greater power competition on the face of reduced US participation in Asian affairs and a possible aggressive self-help and self-sufficiency behavior among the Asian nations whose effects will be reverberate throughout the globe.
Volgy contends that another possible path that will characterize a powerful Asia in a new world order will be a community modeled along democratic lines emphasizing political and economic liberalization in a way that is truly global13.
This particular path will especially be crucial in the region’s push to attain global influence through use of soft power.
Yahua on his part believes that trends in Asia point to a new world order revolving around China and similar to the current order where the US dominates the world supported by powerful allies such as the EU14.
In this arrangement, the Asian role in a new world order will be derived from regional order that spots an East Asian community with China at the center extending a sphere of influence across the region and the world.
It is important to acknowledge that the United States hegemony in world affairs is far from over. Though China has made strides towards economic and military dominance, there are still a lot of areas where the country needs crucial reforms to reflect those of a truly global power.
However, it is undeniable that Asia is making huge economic and military development strides that will easily eclipse those of the EU and the US in a few years. It is clear that global economic, social and security dynamics will call for more strategic partnerships in the Asian region.
Coupled with strong economic growth, Asia will no doubt be a power in the new world order. Whether or not the region will supplant the US and EU in terms of influence and economic domination remains to be seen. However, one thing is clear, that emergence of Asia is definitely altering the global power equation.
Aydin, Cerril. The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan- Islamic and Pan-Asian thought. New York: Cengage Learning, 2007.
Burki, Shahid. South Asia in the New World Order. Kuala-lumpur: Macmillam Publishers, 2011.
Camilleri, Joseph. Regionalism in the new Asia-Pacific order. London: Sage Publications, 2010.
Hagerty, Devin. South Asia in world politics. Darwin: Thomson Learning, 2005.
Hsiung, James. Twenty-First Century World Order and the Asia Pacific: Value Change, Exigencies and Power Realignments. New York: McGraw Hill, 2001.
Komberg, Judith, and Faust John. China in World Politics: Policies, Processes, Prospects. New York: Routledge, 2005.
Shambaugh, David, and Yahuda Michael. International relations of Asia. London: Sage Publications, 2008.
Volgy, Thomas. Mapping the New World Order. New York: Cengage Learning, 2009.
Yahua, Michael. The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific. London: Thomsons Learning, 2011.
Yu, George. Asia’s new world order. New York: Cengage Learning, 1997.
1 Cerril, Aydin, The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian though (New York: Cengage Learning, 2007), 56.
2 David Shambaugh and Michael Yahuda, International relations of Asia (London: Sage Publications 2008), 95.
3 Michael Yahua, The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific (London: Thomsons Learning, 2011), 5.
4 George Yu, Asia‘s new world order (New York: Cengage Learning, 1997), 62.
5 Joseph Camilleri, Regionalism in the new Asia-Pacific order (London: Sage Publications, 2010), 226.
6 Devin Hagerty, South Asia in world politics (Darwin: Thomson Learning, 2005), 88.
7 Shahid Burki, South Asia in the New World Order (Kualalumpur: Macmillam Publishers, 2011), 89.
8 James Hsiung, Twenty-First Century World Order and the Asia Pacific: Value Change, Exigencies and Power Realignments (New York: McGraw Hill, 2001), 183.
9 David Shambaugh and Michael Yahuda, International relations of Asia (London: Sage Publications, 2008), 23.
10 Thomas Volgy, Mapping the New World Order (New York: Cengage Learning, 2009), 67.
11 Judith Kombr and John Faust, China in World Politics: Policies, Processes, Prospect (New York: Routledge, 2005), 18.
12 Shahid Burki, South Asia in the New World Order (Kualalumpur: Macmillam Publishers, 2011), 73.
13 Thomas Volgy, Mapping the New World Order (New York: Cengage Learning, 2009), 104.
14 Michael Yahua, The International Politics of the Asia-Pacific (London: Thomsons Learning, 2011), 59.